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Review: Migration – New Movie from Illumination

By Fabrizio Cadamagnani


Being released in the UK on 2nd February 2024, Migration is a 2023 American animated adventure comedy film produced by Illumination and distributed by Universal Pictures. The story follows a family of mallards who try to convince their overprotective father to go on a vacation of a lifetime and attempt to migrate from New England, through New York City, to Jamaica.


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A family of ducks lives on a pond surrounded by a beautiful North American forest. They aren't missing anything, or at least that's what dad duck thinks. But one day in early autumn a flock of migratory birds passes by the pond on their way south. The boy duck befriends a girl bird from the flock, who invites him and his family to go with them to Jamaica. The boy duck's enthusiasm is matched by his little sister, as well as mother duck who has been dreaming of an adventure. Dad duck is the cautious voice in the family and is strongly opposed at first; but then changes his mind after he realises how uninspiring his own uncle is, having never left the pond.

So begins the family flight down south, which will be marked by several hilarious and life-threatening adventures and encounters with colourful characters, including a very evil hipster New York chef who specialises in duck recipes.

The main theme of Migration is the trip as a symbol of adventure and renewal. This is shown in the contrast between mum and dad duck, and how they evolve and grow closer together in the course of the trip. Given the title, and the fact that it involves a migration from North America to the Caribbean, I hoped the film would also include a playful and sensitive reflection on the issue of (human) migration, and was disappointed that it didn't.  But Migration is still packed with action scenes and creative touches that kids and parents alike will enjoy.

It's a bit of a tricky one on what ages to take. I went with a 6 year old (just turned) and a 3 1/2 year old. My older kid actually found it scary in some parts, as there are a few scenes where either animal predators or a human chef want to kill the ducks (and other similar birds) to eat them! So she wanted to stay on me for the whole second half of the film (she does that often though hehe). Whereas my younger one seemed fine.  So I’m not totally sure what ages I would recommend it for - it's obviously designed for kids, but this theme of the main characters having to fight for their lives against a range of predators might not be to everyone's taste.

I'd give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars - where the plot is 3 stars (at best), and the animation, special effects and various creative touches are 5/5.